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House Passes Defense Bill Featuring Two Amendments by Rep. Kelly
Kelly Amendments Uphold Funding Ban for Arms Trade Treaty,
Aim to Prevent France’s Sale of Warships to Russia
WASHINGTON — Today the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4335, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015, which included two amendments introduced by U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA). The first amendment (#30) would continue the annual ban on funding by the Department of Defense on the implementation of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The second amendment (#272) expresses the Sense of Congress in opposition to France's impending sale of two Mistral class warships to the Russian Federation. It also states that the president, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defense “should use diplomatic means to urge their counterparts in the government of France not to proceed with its sale.”
Rep. Kelly’s floor statement on ATT funding ban:
“I rise in strong support of my amendment to H.R. 4335, the FY15 NDAA, to renew a one year ban on the Obama administration from using any Department of Defense funds to implement the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.
“This language is identical to the version of my amendment that was enacted into law in the FY14 NDAA and reflects the consistent will of the American people and the unified position of Congress in opposition to this misguided and dangerous treaty.
“Renewal of this ban is timely and necessary. In January, the Obama administration unexpectedly and without consultation issued a new arms export control policy, which has not been changed since 1995.
“The Obama administration’s new policy clearly seeks to implement the ATT and is based on the most dangerous part of the treaty—the international human rights law/international humanitarian law standard that can be readily politicized by bad actors to try to stop the U.S. from providing arms to our friends and allies, including Israel.
“In fact, the Obama administration has been so brazen about this that in a speech to CSIS on April 23rd, 2014, Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Countryman openly stated, ‘We’re already implementing the treaty.’
Amazingly, in that same speech, Mr. Countryman stated, ‘We don’t have to change any laws’ to implement the treaty.
“That is not up to him, and it is not up to the administration to decide: it is up to the Senate to provide its advice and consent on the treaty, and the House and Senate to pass the necessary implementing legislation.
“The administration’s assertion is deeply disrespectful to the Senate and the House and to the Constitution that he is sworn to uphold.
“I urge my colleagues to stand with me in support of the Second Amendment, our nation’s sovereignty, and vote in support of my amendment to renew the annual ban on funding the ATT.”
Rep. Kelly’s floor statement on stopping France from selling warships to Russia:
“I rise in strong support of my amendment to H.R. 4335 to express the sense of Congress against France’s impending sale of Mistral class helicopter amphibious assault warships to Russia and urging the president and the Secretaries of State and Defense to seek to stop this sale.
“Zoos often have signs that say, ‘Don’t feed the bears.’ It’s just common sense. Similarly, I’d like to say now, ‘Especially don’t feed the Russian bear.’
“But with the sale of these advanced warships, France isn’t just feeding the Russian bear; it’s serving up fine dining on a silver plate.
“A Mistral is no mere ‘civilian hull’ as France’s defense minister claims. Just one Mistral class warship has the capacity to carry 16 helicopters, up to 700 soldiers, four landing craft, 60 armored vehicles, and 13 tanks, and has the advanced communications capabilities that make it capable of operating as a command-and-control vessel.
“And France wants to send Russia two of them: the Vladivostok and the Sevastopol—which just happens to be the name of the naval base in Crimea, which Russia has just annexed from Ukraine.
“These warships would allow the Russian navy to expand its naval presence in the region, thereby augmenting its capabilities against Ukraine, Georgia, and Baltic members of NATO.
“But don’t take my word for it: Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky, former head of Russia’s Navy, boasted that Russia would have won its war against Georgia in 2008 in ‘40 minutes instead of 26 hours’ if it had just had these ships back then.
“It makes no sense for France to provide these warships to Russia when it is occupying Georgia and massing troops on Ukraine’s border.
“France’s support of Russia’s navy is unbecoming of a close NATO ally. It has got to stop.
“I urge my colleagues to stand with me in support of this commonsense amendment for the sake of our allies and our friends in Europe.”
NOTE: Rep. Kelly is a national leader of the movement to stop the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). On March 15, 2013, he introduced H. Con. Res. 23, a bipartisan concurrent resolution expressing opposition to the treaty on behalf of members of Congress. The resolution currently has 149 co-sponsors in the House and 36 supporters in the Senate.
On May 30, 2013, Rep. Kelly submitted a bipartisan letter with 130 co-signers from Congress to both President Obama and Secretary Kerry urging them to reject the treaty. He sent a similar bipartisan letter to the president following Secretary Kerry’s signing of the treaty on October 15, 2013, which was signed by 181 members of Congress, including multiple committee chairmen. A follow-up letter was sent to the White House on April, 20, 2014.
On June 14, 2013, Rep. Kelly introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2014 to prohibit federal funding for the implementation of the ATT for one year by the Department of Defense. The amendment was adopted unanimously by a voice vote and included in the final passage of the NDAA by the House of Representatives. The House-Senate compromise NDAA, which included an updated version of the Kelly amendment, was passed by the House on December 12, 2013; passed by the Senate on December, 19, 2013; and signed by President Obama on December 26, 2013.
On July 24, 2013, the House Appropriations Committee approved the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2014 which imposes a one-year ban on the use of federal funds for the implementation of the ATT by the State Department. The ban is based on language from a bipartisan letter which Rep. Kelly authored and submitted to the State and Foreign Operations subcommittee on April 18, 2013. A version of this ban was integrated into H.R. 3547, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, which temporarily funded the government between October 1, 2013 and January 15, 2014.
On April 1, 2014, Rep. Kelly authored and submitted four separate letters to the bipartisan leaders of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, the Subcommittee on Homeland Security, the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, and the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies requesting updated and strengthened language prohibiting federal funding of the ATT in each of the subcommittees’ respective appropriation bills for fiscal year 2015, including an explicit ban on the use of funds to engage in domestic prosecutions on the basis of the ATT. Each letter was co-signed by more than 80 members of Congress.